Part 11: Journey to the Cross-Roads

Having made it across the dead marshes, the Hobbits reached the black gate of Mordor. The entrance is heavily guarded, so there is way entering. The Hobbits would surely have been discovered if they approach the gate. So they try to go a different way in: south to the morgul vale. Their road leads them into the land of Ithilien, a wooded country of tree-covered hills and fast-running streams. The wholesome air of the land about them put the Hobbits at ease, and they were caught off guard when they were suddenly joined by a company of rangers who patrolled those woods. The rangers were on a mission to ambush the men of Harad who were marching up the road to Mordor to swell the hosts of Sauron. Before they knew it, the Hobbits were caught in the middle of a battle of men.

This quest puts the heroes in the midst of a heavy battle against Harad forces coming from the cross-roads on the way to the black gate. If to many of them slip through (remain in the staging area and are placed unter The Black Gate then), the player(s) lose the game. Due to its game mechanic, a (single) player has to handle de facto two revealed cards per round, which one of them is a guaranteed enemy.

The Game

Right in the beginning I had to chose to either take another resource per hero, or to get an nice boon. With 5 starting resources I chose the boon. Also, I chose luck-changing-Frodo. The latter was a good decision, the first not. Due to the quests mechanic it is recommendable to engage each enemy – even in the first round, which I had not thought through.

This is another quest I had to play twice. The first game lasted 2 rounds and was lost within 4 minutes.

On my next approach I chose the additional resource. Because I had nothing to defend properly in my hand I took a mulligan and got a Gaffer Gamgee and a A Test of Will as good starting cards. The additional lore resource allowed me to play Gaffer right off. During the game Frodo helped a lot to dodge upcoming enemies from the encounter deck, so except in one round, I had to deal with one new enemy per round only. Because I did not see Thorongil, I had a hard time killing enemies in general, but these Oliphaunts were tough on their own. Luckily, Tom Cotton with his attachments is a solid defender, too. I was engaged with one or two enemies each round. Which was nice, so Tom allowed me to play Gaffer Gamgee each round.

During one round I got my second Oliphaunt from under The Cross-Roads. Because I still had my first one engaged with me, I decided to let that one pass through, even before revealing the regular encounter card. In that very round I got a surge train of enemies which Frodo couldn’t prevent. So I revealed a Man of Harad and due to the following treachery I had a really bad round which put me three cards in one round under The Black Gate.

Cards under The Black Gate

The remaining game was still close but manageable. The last round was quite iconic. Ghân-buri-Ghân was in play, contributing 9 willpower alone. I revealed Henneth Annun, with only 1 threat, so I did win with a huge excess on willpower.

The game was won within 9 rounds and it took me 56 minutes. I’ve chosen the additional resources in the beginning, so no new boon to note in the campaign log – only those cards under The Black Gate.

Sam Gamgee, Pippin, Tom Cotton, Merry (Valiant Warrior)
Threat 28
Fallen HeroesThreat Penality
Valiant Warrior (Merry)The Ring Draws Them
Sting, Mithril Shirt, Glamdring, AndúrilEaten Alive!
Palantir of OrthancOvercome by Grief
Ill Fate
The Searching Eye
Cards under The Black Gate
1x Oliphaunt, 1x Man of Harad, 1x Haradrim Archer
games played:13 (2 lost).
win ratio:84.6%
time spent (actual playing):6 hours, 37 minutes

The Lord of the Rings card game is a living card game by Fantasy Flight Games. The head line picture is a crop of a picture by Magali Villeneuve. It is the art from another quest, Into Ithilien: Southron-Counter-attack. The Black Gate as well as the three Harad cards, are from the game itself, taken from Hall of Beorn.

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